DUBLIN, March 24 (Reuters) - Founder Pat Byrne and private equity backers have repurchased Irish regional airline CityJet from German owners Intro Aviation for an undisclosed sum, the company said on Thursday.
The regional airline, which carried around 2 million passengers last year, was bought from Air France-KLM in 2014 by Intro Aviation.
CityJet operates eight routes into the small London City Airport and a service linking to Air France’s hub at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
“Pat Byrne, the airline’s founder with the support of a private equity consortium owned and controlled by European private individuals with considerable experience in the aviation sector, have acquired the airline,” CityJet said in a statement.
Byrne told the Irish Independent newspaper on Thursday that the airline saw an initial public offering within two to three years as “the ideal way to go.”
The airline expects to make a modest profit this year and revenue will increase to 300 million euros ($335 million)within two years from the 177 million euros earned in 2014 when it posted an operating loss of 22.7 million euros, he told the newspaper.
A spokesman for CityJet declined to comment on the company’s profit forecast or the possibility of an IPO.
CityJet is expecting delivery of the first of eight new CRJ900 jet aircraft from Bombardier this week with subsequent deliveries to continue until June, it said in the statement.
CityJet was the first European carrier to order the new generation SSJ 100 Superjet from Russia’s Sukhoi and will take delivery of three aircraft this year with an additional five by July 2017, it said.
CityJet has a further firm order for an additional seven Superjets and options on 16 more and said the Russian airliners would ultimately replace its existing Avro 85 fleet. ($1 = 0.8955 euros) (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Keith Weir)